New Anti-Cartel Protests Loom in Bulgaria

February 19, 2013, Tuesday // 09:20
New Anti-Cartel Protests Loom in Bulgaria: New Anti-Cartel Protests Loom in Bulgaria
Protesters and police in front of Parliament in Sofia Monday evening. Photo by BGNES

The protest rallies against high utility bills and monopolies are continuing Tuesday.

The rallies in downtown Sofia Monday evening were marked by demands for resignation of the Cabinet and clashes with riot police, which continued for over 4 hours with policemen chasing demonstrators on Sofia streets.

The most serious clash happened on the central "Hristo Botev" boulevard where police attacked the crowd with batons. In another incident, shots were fired from a balcony in downtown Sofia. The shooter was arrested and the gas pistol seized.

According to official data of the Interior Ministry, 11 people have been detained and 6 patrol cars have sustained damage.

The Chief of Sofia police, Commissar Valeri Yordanov, informs the man fired the gas pistol at the demonstrators because they were pushing his parked vehicle. He explained that two of the other 10 detainees had criminal records – for distribution of illegal drugs and disorderly conduct, respectively.

Two minors have also been arrested and later released to the custody of their parents, who were summoned to pick them up from the police precinct. All have 24 hours detention orders.

Several people have sustained slight injuries, both policemen and demonstrators.

Bulgarian flute virtuoso, Christian Koev, was among the detainees. He was held briefly and released. Koev says this was his first arrest, reminding he has been bestowed the "baron" title in Brussels for his talent.

The musician threatens to alert European institutions.

"I am independent, and perform all over the world. I don't make my living in Bulgaria. I can leave today and settle in Italy. What is happening? I come back to Bulgaria and see the impossible electric bills of my mother, and this is why I am protesting. Why am I being arrested? Am I a criminal?" Koev told the media while in handcuffs.

Meanwhile, the news agency BGNES reported that journalists have been pushed and hit by riot police.

Thousands of residents of the Black Sea city of Varna also took on the streets and blocked the main road to the "Golden Sands" beach resort. In the second largest city of Plovdiv, demonstrators set on fire a vehicle of the electric power distributor EVN, bringing the total to four.

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